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USA 1942
produced by
Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner (executive) for Warner Brothers
directed by Michael Curtiz
starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.Z.Sakall, Madeleine LeBeau, Dooley Wilson, Joy Page, John Qualen, Leonid Kinskey, Curt Bois, Paul Panzer, Leo White, Ludwig Stössel, Ilka Grüning, Leo Mostovoy, Corinna Mura, Marcel Dalio, Helmut Dantine, George Dee, Lotte Palfi Andor, Richard Ryan, Dan Seymour, George J.Lewis, Wolfgang Zilzer, Herbert Evans, Martin Garralaga, Gregory Gaye, Gregory Golubeff, Gerald Oliver Smith, Norma Varden, Olaf Hytten, Charles La Torre, Torben Meyer, Alberto Morin, George Meeker, Jacques Lory, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski
screenplay by Julius J.Epstein, Philip G.Epstein, Howard Koch, based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, music by Max Steiner

Casablanca, American World War II Propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Casablanca, Morocco, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour is only days away - but of course nobody knows that yet. Rick (Humphrey Bogart), a cynic who was once an idealist runs a bar in what is at the time still neutral territory where pretty much everybody meets, from Nazi bigwigs to resistance fighters to German fugitives. Rick though stays out of politics and out of anybody else's affairs, obviously trying to forget whatever-it-is.

One day, Ugarte (Peter Lorre), a war profiteer whom he despises, asks Rick to hide some letters of transit - the only ticket that can get you out of Casablanca - for him, and Rick agrees ... and only a short time later, Ugarte is shot by the authorites - which are commanded by turncoat Captain Renault (Claude Rains), but German Major Strasser (Conrad Weidt) uses his influence to put the police basically under German rule - for having stolen the letters of transit from a German courier. Rick, who has the papers now, won't give them up of course ...

Eventually, famed Resistance fighter Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) arrives in Casablanca with his wife Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) - who is exactly the woman whom Rick tried to forget after she stood him up in Paris when they were just about to flee from the invading Nazis. What's worse though is that Victor and Ilsa are in need of Ugarte's letters of transit - and after Ilsa has broken his heart, Rick is reluctant to do her any favour at all.

Ilsa, who has been married before her affair with Rick and only hooked up with Rick after she thought Victor dead (and left him when she learned he was still alive), tries everything to get the letters from Rick, but at first it seems nothing works ... until the two fall in love again, and all of a sudden the priorities change and Rick and Ilsa are thinking about leaving the country together and forget about Victor - and to that end, Rick even sells his bar to the shady Signor Ferrari (Sydney Greenstreet). And he makes a deal with Renault to lure Victor into a trap, since it's only Victor, not him or Ilsa the Nazis want.

However, when Rick's trap springs, it springs backwards - at least from Renault's point of view: Actually, Rick's conscience and idealism had gotten the better of him, and now he tries to set every wheel in motion to make Victor and Ilsa leave Casablanca together, even if it breaks his heart once more, and he needs Renault as an escort to the local airport., even if he has to escort them at gunpoint.

At the airplane, Rick bids Ilsa farewell in the rain, in one of film history's most famous monologues, but when Ilsa and Victor are almost off the ground, Major Strasser, who has been called in by Renault in one of Rick's careless moments, arrives and tries to stop the airplane - upon which Rick has to shoot him. Seeing the romantic and idealist in Rick, Renault has a change of heart - especially since he never liked the Germans anyway - and decides not to give Rick away but instead join him in joining the foreign legion ...


In writing, Casablanca seems to be little more than a cheesy propaganda movie, and of course it's true, of course Casablanca has its moments of kitsch and it quite simply is a propaganda movie - but that aside it's also one of the greatest melodramas of cinema history, for quite a few reasons: First of all, there's teh cast, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman make one of the quintessential screen lovers, their chemistry being just right, and they are supported by a great ensemble cast, with actors like Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet just being unable to give a less than excellent performance as it is. Then there's the script that carefully balances the romance and crime-and-espionage elements of the story to make the film neither too cheesy nor to sensationalist, with extremely well-written dialogue of course helping things along. And then there's of course the direction which might not be exactly inventive, but it's elegant and it makes Casablanca come to life despite the fact that it's mainly (quite obvious) studio sets.

And what more can I say than that all this adds up to a great movie-melodrama which even cynics like me are able to like.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD